Thursday, May 30, 2013

School staffer accused of embezzling; parents want changes in Virginia


Outcry in Richford over a Parent-Teacher Organization treasurer and teacher accused of embezzling thousands from PTO funds. Now some residents are calling for the woman's husband to resign from the school board.

Shawna Steinhour denied the embezzlement charges last week, but court records show her husband, who sits on the Richford School Board, may have had a hand in the money issues, too. Wally Steinhour is not facing any charges. That's something that's not sitting well with the PTO and some parents.

According to the board, Wally Steinhour has recused himself since his wife was accused of embezzlement. Some members of the PTO feel that's not enough.

"When somebody takes out a loan to cover up monies that have been stolen-- and they were stolen; it's a fact-- it just doesn't sit right with us," said PTO member Marie Destefano.

Some at the meeting called for Wally Steinhour to be fired since court documents revealed he took out a personal loan and used it to pay back the thousands of dollars his wife, Shawna, is accused of embezzling. She is both a first-grade teacher and elementary school PTO treasurer. Prosecutors say she used the money to shop online and go to the hair salon. Parents say if he tried to cover it up, he can't be trusted anymore.

"It was kind of slipped in there and none of us knew until we checked bank records," Destefano explained. "And that's where we found it a little under the table," she says of Steinhour's actions.

But Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Jay Nichols made it clear there's nothing anyone can do to remove Wally Steinhour from his position.

"From a legal perspective, any elected official or school board member is an elected official. Unless they resign or lose in the next election, they have a right to that seat," Nichols said at the meeting.

Technically, Wally Steinhour could resume his position at any time, but he wouldn't be allowed to take part in hearings about his wife's standing as an employee. She's on paid administrative leave.

Though Wally Steinhour's position is safe, the board could decide to fire Shawna Steinhour because she is an employee, not an elected official,  regardless of the outcome of the criminal charges.

"If they can prove just cause they can terminate an employee," Nichols explained. "The employee can be found innocent or guilty-- doesn't matter. The board still has the right to make that decision."

Wednesday night, in a closed-door executive session, the superintendent gave his recommendation to the board on what to do about Shawna Steinhour. The board could decide to keep her on paid administrative leave, to terminate her contract, to ask her to resign, or could return her to regular status. It's a process that will require hearings and could take quite some time. Wally Steinhour is not facing any criminal charges at this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment